Ayo Saka’s late goal earned league leaders Lobi Stars a priceless victory over Kano Pillars in the highlight of Sunday’s action in Match Day 18 of the Nigeria Professional Football League.
Both teams cancelled each other out for greater spells of the game but former Enyimba midfielder Saka provided the winner ten minutes from time shortly after Pillars had full back Chris Madaki sent off.
The win sent Lobi six points clear at the top of the table, ahead of Katsina United and Niger Tornadoes who both enjoyed narrow victories at home on Sunday against North Eastern oppositions.
In Katsina, Abdullahi Biffo’s United edged ten-man El-Kanemi Warriors 1-0 courtesy of Destiny Ashadi’s 53rd minute penalty with former Enyimba midfielder Abdulrazak Aliyu sent off for the Warriors late on.
Tornadoes had to wait till deep in stoppage time before seeing through an obstinate Yobe Desert Stars. Defensive star, Andrew Ikefe’s long range effort handed Hamza Abara’s side the win as they continue their unbeaten run under the young coach.
High flying Enyimba secured another point on the road after goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa’s heroics earned them a 0-0 draw at Wikki Tourists. Making a return from a small injury, Ezenwa made a couple of fine saves to deny the hosts at the Zaria road stadium in Jos.
In Uyo, Akwa United dug deep to beat Sunshine Stars 2-1 and return to the top four. Midfielder Ifeanyi Ifeanyi’s free kick had been cancelled out by Franklin Sasere’s goal early in the second half but Victor Mbaoma headed a late winner to send Abdu Maikaba’s men to fourth on the log.
The performance of the day had to go to newly promoted Go Round FC who earned their first away point of the season at Kwara United. Stephen Alfred gave United a first half lead – his eighth goal of the season – before Chidi Nwachukwu equalised for the visitors in the second half, minutes after Chile Azu had his penalty saved by the hosts keeper Jonah Usman.
Usman’s former side FC Ifeanyiubah were also held at home by Rangers in Nnewi. The Oriental Derby ended goalless as Rangers earned their first point in Nnewi since the club’s takeover by billionaire Ifeanyi Ubah over three years ago.
In the day’s other game, Nasarawa United returned home and restored normalcy after two defeats on the road. Kabiru Dogo’s men pipped Abia Warriors 1-0 with Shamasu Mohammed scoring the game’s only goal in the first half.
Two more games are scheduled for Monday: MFM FC host Rivers United in Lagos while reigning champions Plateau United will be entertained by Heartland FC in Owerri.